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View Full Version : Help Repairing My Sagging Inflatables - Is Rejuvination Possible ?



kidcole
01-04-2015, 04:20 PM
I have one of the old Santa Band inflatables. These are very collecatable and I love it. I don't want to let it end up in a trash can. The original motor is very strong but the thing is starting to sag (a lot). Santa is bending forward and so is the bear. I have checked it for general leaks and holes and cannot find any. But I can feel a lot of air coming out of the seams. I am thinking that some sort of waterproofing might be needed to seal this thing back up .. possibly sprayed on from the inside. But I don't want to pick anything like paint that would get stiff and ultimately crack.

Pic attached. Taken when it did not have any sagging problems. I have some 8' Santas and Snowmen that have similar issues.

Does anyone have experience with rejuvinating inflatables ?

scootchu
01-04-2015, 04:33 PM
I have read where 3M Scotchguard worked when sprayed on the fabric. haven't tried it myself.

imbluenote
01-04-2015, 04:40 PM
i read a thread here or somewhere that fabric softener sprayed on it works. i haven't tried it but just being fabric softener dont see why it would hurt to try.

kidcole
01-06-2015, 11:56 AM
I appreciate the replies. I am curious if marine waterproofing would work. Has anyone tried ?

BigPav
01-06-2015, 12:10 PM
A few years back TLC had their Crazy Christmas Lights show and a guy had a ton of inflatables. He would sew them or his mother-in-law sewed them to repair them. If the seams are leaking means the stitches are losing their hold and may just need restitched.

kychristmas
01-06-2015, 12:26 PM
http://diychristmas.org/vb1/showthread.php?1456-Limp-inflatable-quick-fix

beeiilll
01-06-2015, 01:16 PM
I used some spray silicone sealer to "fix" an 8 foot sagging snowman that I have. Sprayed it into the guy while inflated by giving it shots into the fan. Worked great and once dried it has remained for two years now and he still inflats great and is very firm so not much air is leaking out.

kmalsom
01-06-2015, 01:26 PM
The problem I started encountering this year is snow getting into the fans of the new DC (LED) inflatables. The fans now seem to be turning slower, even when dry so I'm going to see what I can do for lubrication of the fan or if I need to replace them.

TazChaLet
01-06-2015, 03:59 PM
I Know I had too respray my tent with this stuff that might also work wont wash off like the fabric softener will do in rain

timpwk
01-06-2015, 07:58 PM
I have a sagging 8 foot scooby. I have tried spraying with clear paint sealers and also tent sealer with no effect. Bill, What kind of silicone sealer did you use? I have fixed it by adding a second fan, however I would much rather go back to one fan!

beeiilll
01-06-2015, 08:12 PM
Look for a silicone sealer that is used for shoes or fabric. I don't remember what the name of the kind I used is right now as I am not at home. I will try to remember to check when I get back home and post here for you.
Something like this:
http://www.amazon.com/Atsko-Sno-Seal-Silicone-Water-Guard-Repellent/dp/B00CQJDR6W/ref=pd_sim_sg_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1D27BDBHX8WC08R6V30A

jchuchla
01-07-2015, 12:12 AM
I also seal them with a silicone based deck sealer. I get it by the gallon in the paint section of the ace hardware. I just put it in a pump sprayer and spray it on. I usually use the spray bottle style because you don't need a lot. I do it when it's not inflated, because if there is leaks, it's just going to keep bubbling at the leak and not actually seal it. It also works great for waterproofing tents. It's a bit pricey though. I seem to remember it's around $45/gal.
I used to use Thompson's Water Seal, it's much cheaper and easier to apply because it's thinner, but you can't get it around here any more due to the stupid "protect us from ourselves" anti VOC laws. They still sell something with the same name in similar packaging, but now it's water based, has zero smell, and doesn't work for anything.

beeiilll
01-08-2015, 09:24 AM
I just woke up and thought about another possibility for you in sealing that you can try as well.

You can get a product called Seam Seal from most places that sell camping gear or outdoor stuff. I used to use it on my tents back when I was much more of an outdoors man than now :w00t:.

Take the inflatable and lay it out and run some seam seal onto the sewed edges and let dry. This will probably take awhile to do as you need to let the stuff dry before you go moving the item around. It helps if you can hang the item onto a clothesline or some way that lets you do the most seams at a time.

This makes the seams air and water tight but doesn't affect the fabric so much. Of course this method boils down to how much time and effort you want to put into saving an inflatable and what it is worth to you. I have a couple that I only put out every other or every third season and they are really pretty nice so I am careful with them and want to make them last awhile.
Also now with the throw away mentality of out society, I think that some of the really "cool" inflatables will be extinct very soon and you won't be able to buy them anymore before too long so why not take a few minutes to help them last a few more years?

mattyw
01-26-2016, 04:45 PM
I have a number of large inflatables, and over time they develop leaks like the ones you're describing. I think the problem with the seams is the thread is not UV resistant and just breaks down over time. If it's black, I have used Gorilla Tape while it was inflated with quite a bit of success, but if it isn't I actually hand-sew whatever is leaking, and that has worked quite well, too. I have a 12 foot hearse that is no longer made, that has Dracula in a coffin inside that pops up and down. Over time, I had developed a lot of pinhole leaks, and this year I went out with matching thread and just sewed them up.

Traneman
01-26-2016, 06:19 PM
mmmmm wonder if this will work on my sagging chin ???????:w00t: Sorry the devil made me post this

timpwk
01-27-2016, 07:29 AM
I tried using the 50-50 mix of fabric softner (I used downey) and water. It worked unbelievably well, I only found that I had to respray after rain.

GoneSilent
01-27-2016, 08:50 AM
I use starch

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mattyw
01-27-2016, 12:08 PM
Traneman--a person after my own heart! I always say that pregnancy is when your shirttail goes from hanging on the inside to hanging on the outside--and it NEVER goes back!

Wolfie
01-27-2016, 06:17 PM
In my younger years (several decades go), there used to be a tent seam waterproof product that came in a roll-on container. Like the (really)old school deoderant rollons with the big plastic roller balls. Not sure if that would fix it or not.

Prior to that innovation, we used white hurricane candles. We would snip the wick off and rip it out the bottom of the candle. Then we would draw on the seams with it like a crayon. Dunno if that would help with air but it darn sure helped(helps) with water.

beeiilll
01-27-2016, 07:47 PM
You can still get tent seam waterproofer in tubes and spray. The newer stuff is nice as you can find it in a silicone based formula that has UV inhibitor in it as well!
I still just use a good silicone spray and spray it through the fan while the inflatable is up and running. It tends to go to leaks and will plug them if not too big. Although using a candle to help plug bigger leaks sounds like a good trick along with the spray to seal things better.

mattyw
10-08-2016, 01:43 PM
I have had LOTS of experience with large inflatables, and the problem with all of them is the thread used to sew them is not UV resistant thread, it's ordinary thread. That means that over time, the thread holding the seams breaks down. I go over them when I put them up and again when I break them down to check the seams, and if necessary I just hand-sew them shut. Coats & Clark puts out an Outdoor Living Thread in a number of colors that is UV resistant. As a matter of fact, I got a brand new 11 foot dragon that flaps its wings this year for Halloween, and it ALREADY had a small break in one seam! An alternative and quick fix is to use clear Gorilla tape and tape over them. It has worked GREAT for me; it's water proof and holds beautifully, but should be applied when the piece is inflated (ask me how I know).

These inflatables are made of nylon that SHOULD be waterproof, but often aren't. For that, Thompson's (as in Thompson's Water Seal for decks) has a fabric waterproofing spray that is permanent and doesn't discolor the fabric. It works great and will last at least for the time the inflatable is displayed. I usually respray the inflatable when I first put it up for the season. I got two cans -- which last quite a while -- at Home Depot; it's easiest to get at the beginning of the summer season, because it's ordinarily used on outdoor fabric cushions. Hope all of this helps!

melianguidry
12-22-2016, 11:05 PM
I have had LOTS of experience with large inflatables, and the problem with all of them is the thread used to sew them is not UV resistant thread, it's ordinary thread. That means that over time, the thread holding the seams breaks down. I go over them when I put them up and again when I break them down to check the seams, and if necessary I just hand-sew them shut. Coats & Clark puts out an Outdoor Living Thread in a number of colors that is UV resistant. As a matter of fact, I got a brand new 11 foot dragon that flaps its wings this year for Halloween, and it ALREADY had a small break in one seam! An alternative and quick fix is to use clear Gorilla tape and tape over them. It has worked GREAT for me; it's water proof and holds beautifully, but should be applied when the piece is inflated (ask me how I know).

These inflatables are made of nylon that SHOULD be waterproof, but often aren't. For that, Thompson's (as in Thompson's Water Seal for decks) has a fabric waterproofing spray that is permanent and doesn't discolor the fabric. It works great and will last at least for the time the inflatable is displayed. I usually respray the inflatable when I first put it up for the season. I got two cans -- which last quite a while -- at Home Depot; it's easiest to get at the beginning of the summer season, because it's ordinarily used on outdoor fabric cushions. Hope all of this helps!

We have an old 8' Ginch we bought off ebay that won't stand on his own, he is 12 years old. When you wet the grinch (advice I read on another forum) he will stand on his own; however, about an hour and a half to two hours later, he falls again. We tried the Thompson's fabric waterseal, and that actually made it worse, he wouldn't even inflate as much as he did before. We hosed him off to try get as much of the fabric waterseal off, and he stood again....but because he was wet.

Any advice?

beeiilll
12-23-2016, 09:02 AM
We have an old 8' Ginch we bought off ebay that won't stand on his own, he is 12 years old. When you wet the grinch (advice I read on another forum) he will stand on his own; however, about an hour and a half to two hours later, he falls again. We tried the Thompson's fabric waterseal, and that actually made it worse, he wouldn't even inflate as much as he did before. We hosed him off to try get as much of the fabric waterseal off, and he stood again....but because he was wet.

Any advice?

How did you apply the watersealer? Did you apply it to the outside or the inside of the unit?
I feel that it needs to be placed inside the inflatable so that it is somewhat forced into the fabric by the air pressure and not just pushed off the surface.
I use this (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008BMOYWO/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=2VN3W3KW471A0&coliid=I2YMXL9CJ3WP5C) and it works great. I spray it into the inflatable through the fan using short "bursts" of spray so that it spreads around with the air flow.
Or if you rather, you can use a silicone spray (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dtools&field-keywords=silicone+waterproofing+spray&rh=n%3A228013%2Ck%3Asilicone+waterproofing+spray) one. There are also products like "RainGuard" and Hydro-Lok" out now that may be useful but I have not tried any of those so can't say if they would work better or not.
I do agree that the thread on seams is a big problem maker with these things though and can cause a lot of inflation problems as it breaks or loosens up.

It almost sounds like you have leaks in the seams from things as the spray made the fabric "tighten up" and the air just spread the seams more and the air leaked worse possibly? Sounds like your waterproofing allowed the seams and or fabric to swell and leak more if you used it on the outside.
If that is the case, you will have to use a seal sealer (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dtools&field-keywords=seam+sealer) and/or repair any broken threads. I tend to use the kind in squeeze tubes rather than spray as it is thicker and seals a bit better but the spray works very well. You have to seal seams while the inflatable is down though and allow the sealer to dry good before use.
It does take time to go over one of these things and repair them but I do mine each year as I love to have them.

melianguidry
12-24-2016, 10:41 AM
How did you apply the watersealer? Did you apply it to the outside or the inside of the unit?
I feel that it needs to be placed inside the inflatable so that it is somewhat forced into the fabric by the air pressure and not just pushed off the surface.
I use this (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008BMOYWO/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=2VN3W3KW471A0&coliid=I2YMXL9CJ3WP5C) and it works great. I spray it into the inflatable through the fan using short "bursts" of spray so that it spreads around with the air flow.
Or if you rather, you can use a silicone spray (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dtools&field-keywords=silicone+waterproofing+spray&rh=n%3A228013%2Ck%3Asilicone+waterproofing+spray) one. There are also products like "RainGuard" and Hydro-Lok" out now that may be useful but I have not tried any of those so can't say if they would work better or not.
I do agree that the thread on seams is a big problem maker with these things though and can cause a lot of inflation problems as it breaks or loosens up.

It almost sounds like you have leaks in the seams from things as the spray made the fabric "tighten up" and the air just spread the seams more and the air leaked worse possibly? Sounds like your waterproofing allowed the seams and or fabric to swell and leak more if you used it on the outside.
If that is the case, you will have to use a seal sealer (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dtools&field-keywords=seam+sealer) and/or repair any broken threads. I tend to use the kind in squeeze tubes rather than spray as it is thicker and seals a bit better but the spray works very well. You have to seal seams while the inflatable is down though and allow the sealer to dry good before use.
It does take time to go over one of these things and repair them but I do mine each year as I love to have them.

That Thompson's fabric seal is what I used. I sprayed it on the outside and did a few bursts inside while it was off, but it definitely made it worse.

I'll pick up a tube of that seal sealer and see if that helps now. Do you think if I hose down the outside enough it'll wash off the Thompson's that I sprayed on the outside?

beeiilll
12-24-2016, 11:27 AM
That Thompson's fabric seal is what I used. I sprayed it on the outside and did a few bursts inside while it was off, but it definitely made it worse.

I'll pick up a tube of that seal sealer and see if that helps now. Do you think if I hose down the outside enough it'll wash off the Thompson's that I sprayed on the outside?

You could also try washing it with a mild dish soap but usually once the stuff dries, it stays on there. I would definitely check the seams while it is inflated and see how they look. If the inflatable has lights in it, I find that checking it at night will show the areas of leaks up really better as you will see the "raw light" shining through any areas that are large holes. That way you can try and "fix" the places that seem to leak the worse first. Look at areas that any light attachment points might be sewn in at. They can get loose and cause leaks.

Also at 8 years old, the fan may just be starting to get "tired" as well and doesn't have the same force to it as when it was new. You should check it for dust as well as see how easily it spins when off. A small touch of fine machine oil on bearings will help them (WD40 works as well just not a lot as it will attract dust if you use a lot).

Hope this helps and have a Merry Christmas!

mattyw
12-24-2016, 12:18 PM
Typically, the problem at least for me has been seams that started to part. I bought a brand new 11 foot dragon this year for Halloween that already had split about a 3" part in a seam. Fortunately, I sew, and I repair them myself by hand-sewing, using UV resistant thread. If I have a large expensive inflatable with a split in a seam, I patch the split while it's up, then resew the entire seam once it's down. I've just finished reworking some of the seams on a 16 foot hearse with Dracula inside. I have not sprayed it with anything; I will only do that if I see that there is water inside an inflatable after it rains. I have not had to use it on an inflatable often, but when I did, I used it on the outside while it was inflated. I have never used it inside an inflatable. Others who have say that it's more effective, but I would imagine that it would be difficult to make sure the fabric was evenly covered that way, particularly if it's a superlarge inflatable, as many of mine are.

When I have sprayed inflatables, I haven't seen a difference in the fabric, such as puckering, after I did it. I try to spray one section at a time lightly, then re-spray it lightly when the first coat dries--about 24 hours later. I have also made replacement covers for outside furniture, and once sewn I always spray the fabric with two coats of Fabric Waterproofer. It works quite well. You can usually find it at or near the patio furniture display during the spring.

It appears that this material is what is called "pongee" in the trade. It's rip stop nylon that has been treated to be waterproof, and it's the same material used for umbrellas, although it's a slightly heavier grade. You can purchase it by the yard in fabric stores in their utilities section in several basic colors.

kidcole
12-25-2016, 07:47 PM
Thanks for rejuvenating this discussion .. I didn't run inflatables this year but next year I'll have 5 or 6. I'll try some of these ideas in the off season.

bowl3001999
11-25-2018, 08:44 PM
Hi, so I read this whole thread. My grinch inflates, but it just keeps wanting to fall over (it's the Gemmy one from 2000). It has always worked when I tether it down, but last year I started having trouble. There appears to be no leaks in it. From reading some other message boards, it sounds like I don't need a new motor? Is there a way this motor is working, but just not blowing it up enough? Thanks for the help!

DaveMcK
11-25-2018, 10:17 PM
As your inflatables age the blower will wear out and the fabric will leak more as seams stretch. When I have one that is sagging a little, I'll spray the whole thing with starch. The starch makes the fabric less porous, keeping the inflatable better inflated.

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bowl3001999
11-26-2018, 08:50 AM
As your inflatables age the blower will wear out and the fabric will leak more as seams stretch. When I have one that is sagging a little, I'll spray the whole thing with starch. The starch makes the fabric less porous, keeping the inflatable better inflated.

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Thank you, I have read about using sealer, fabric softener but never starch. Do you just spray it on the seams? I just wanted to make sure it doesn't leave marks.

DaveMcK
11-26-2018, 09:41 AM
Thank you, I have read about using sealer, fabric softener but never starch. Do you just spray it on the seams? I just wanted to make sure it doesn't leave marks.If an inflatable is only sagging a little you can be selective, but I usually spray the entire figure. My thinking is that if you do see a difference in color because of the starch, it will at least be consistent.
You can use most anything that will fill the fabric pores. In one case I went as far as using clear spray paint. It gave me a noticably shiny surface in daylight, but didn't look bad when lit at night.

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dcamron
11-26-2018, 10:48 AM
I used spray glue on my Winnie The Pooh and Tigger inflatables a few years ago. It took a couple of tries but they inflate nicely now. I turned each one of them on, reached my hand through the zipper with a can of spray glue and tried to hit the areas I thought were leaking more. I also sprayed glue in the middle and let it leak through the fabric. It's messy
and I should have worn respiratory and skin protection. Some of the glue gets through the small holes and onto your clothes, skin, etc. After the application I let them run for a few days to make sure the glue was dry. I only use 2 inflatables for Christmas and those usually run 24x7.

richnat
02-26-2020, 12:49 PM
I have a pair of 2003 Gemmy 12.5 foot inflatables that just won't stand up. The fans are large and blow very strong but both are limp noodles. I took the best one and treated all the seams with gooey tent seam sealer and then sprayed the entire inflatable from the inside with silicone waterproofer and nothing. I'd really like to get these working again if there is any way possible as they are of a fantastic design. Any other ideas anyone could share? I tried to add a second but smaller fan and it made absolutely no difference.

DaveMcK
02-26-2020, 01:07 PM
If the fans are strong you are obviously losing air somewhere. Sealing the seams and coating the fabric usually solves that problem.
I can only suggest powering up then going over the inflatable inch by inch feeling for any large unexpected airflow then resealing those areas as needed.

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